Month: July 2020 (page 1 of 2)

Unspoken. The first reviews are in

 

click cover to buy.

Phew!
The noise that comes out of every author’s mouth when the first positive review arrives on your Amazon book page. It is usually a long, frustrating wait unless you were smart enough, unlike me, to sent out pre, publication books to prospective reviewers.

This time around, I was lucky enough to receive two very early ones. Readers need time to read the book after all and not all will want to share their opinions of the work in public.

Happily I received two early reviews on the same day and not only were both positive, they were both 5*

A Beautiful Story.

A Fabulous Heartwarming Read.

It doesn’t get much better than this for an author, whether they turn out three or four books a year, or, like me, it’s the first book in five years and a journey into a whole new genre.

In other news, I have discovered that Unspoken is at number 40 in the Amazon, Hot New Saga Release chart and that the book has now been bought in six different countries.

UK, USA, Australia, Germany, Canada and Spain.

Well, that’s enough excitement for one day. I need a lie down.

Thank you everyone.

Author Interview

I have just been answering questions about my writing on the fabulous, Jo Lambert Blog.

Jo is a brilliant author and it was a privilege to be asked to appear on her website.

You can find the interview and links to her own new novel, below.

Tuesday Talk welcomes author Trevor Belshaw who talks about how be became a writer and showcases his new book Unspoken…

 

Style and Glamour. 1930s Women

Women looked so elegant in the late 1930s. Loved the hairstyles and the clothes. Sexy without being outrageous. Hats looked great too. Nylons taking over from silk stockings, heels, red lipstick and curls. Style and glamour.

My main character, Alice, in Unspoken, was said to have a remarkable likeness to Rita Hayworth. Here she is.

 

 

Excerpt from Unspoken. A Dramatic Family Saga.

Sheerness station looked pretty much like our local one, with a signaller’s building, a ticket office and a waiting-room-come-café. The sharp, swirling wind,  blew the train’s smoke into our faces as we traversed the platform. We pulled our coat collars over our mouths and hurried to get out of the station.
‘I feel like I’ve just smoked a whole packet of fags at once,’ said Frank, hoarsely.
Outside the station we turned onto the aptly named Railway Road. About half way along it we found a pub, not surprising called The Railway. In the window was a sign advertising rooms with breakfast. Six shillings, double. Four and six, single.
‘What do you think?’ he asked.
‘Won’t it be a bit noisy?’ I said. The pub looked in good condition, on the outside at least.
‘It’ll be fine at this time of year,’ said Frank. ‘I have stayed here, but only for one night. I couldn’t afford nearly five bob a night out of the wages I was earning. I had to go into lodgings. It was a right flea pit too.’
He shuddered at the memory.
‘Let’s have a look at the room first,’ I said. My scalp started to itch. I resisted the urge to scratch it.
The pub was clean, and the landlady was friendly. She ordered a scrawny-looking man with a thick head of tightly curled, ginger hair to take my case and show us up to the double guest room. She noticed the anxious look on my face as he opened the door to the stairs.
‘I’d sleep in it,’ she said with a smile. ‘You’ll both be cosy in there.’
I was glad she didn’t use the phrase, snug as a bug in a rug.
Robert introduced himself as he led us up the one, steep flight of stairs. ‘I live with Irene,’ he announced, in a matter of fact way. ‘We’re not married or anything.’
I pulled my left hand up my sleeve so he couldn’t spot that Frank and I weren’t married either. I hadn’t even considered bringing a ring with me.
The room was nice, bright, and had a window facing the street, not the railway line that the rooms at the back of the pub must have overlooked.
It had a large, enamel basin and water pitcher on a shelf in the corner, clean towels, and a newish-looking double bed on the wall opposite the window. There was a single wardrobe and a round, oak table surrounded by four, rickety looking chairs.
‘The bathroom is at the end of the corridor. Just turn left, you can’t miss it.’ Robert hung around waiting for a tip, so I gave him a threepenny bit and he turned away.
‘Payment is in advance,’ he said suddenly. He spun around and looked at Frank. ‘Shall I show you the way down?’
Frank looked at me and shrugged.
‘We’ll be back down in a moment,’ I told him. ‘My husband will pay you then. Just the one night.’
When we returned to the bar, we found that Irene was in a far more business-like mood. The friendly smile had gone, and had been replaced by a steely-eyed stare.
I’d given Frank a ten-shilling note before we came down. He produced it with a smile.
‘There’s a five-bob deposit,’ said Irene. ‘In case of breakages. It will be refunded when you leave.’
I wondered what there was in the room that could be broken. There was only the bowl and pitcher and they looked sturdy enough.
‘Five bob?’ Frank exploded.
‘It’s the new rules,’ said Irene. She leaned over the bar towards us. ‘I’m already breaking one rule by letting you stay here at all. We don’t usually allow unmarried couples into our rooms.’
I pulled the extra shilling from my purse and handed it over. I leaned forward myself and whispered. ‘Where do you and Robert sleep then?’
Irene stuffed the money into a pocket in her apron and looked smug.
‘We don’t sleep here,’ she said.

We gave up arguing and went for a walk up to the town.
The High Street was a mix of Victorian and Edwardian buildings with faded, washed out shop fronts, but for someone like me, who lived in the country, it was a treasure trove of modern consumerism. On the High Street was a Boots store and behind it, a brightly painted clocktower that stood out vividly alongside the dull expanse of grimy, red brick and mortar.
We stopped for tea at a café in the town centre, but we had to drink it in a breezy garden at the back, because the café itself was under renovation. A waitress, wearing a uniform better suited to Lyons tea rooms than a tiny, underused little café in Sheerness, took our order and apologised on behalf of the café owner. The tea was well brewed and the waitress helpful, explaining to us the quickest way to the sea front. I left her a threepenny tip for her trouble.
After tea, we retraced our steps until we came to Broadway. A few minutes later we arrived at Sheerness beach, which was empty apart from a couple of dog walkers and two children hunting for shells. We walked along the Marine Parade until we reached the pier which the people walking just in front of us had called ‘the jetty’. It was built as a place for boats to unload passengers, but at this time of year there would have been little in the way of business for the boat owners. At the end of the pier was a pavilion. We never found out what entertainment it provided because it was closed, and wouldn’t open again until May Day.
We walked back along the pier, past the silent, unoccupied bandstand and headed further down Marine Parade towards Minster. The sea air had really worked on my appetite, so we bought fish and chips and sat down on the sea wall to eat them. A chilly wind came off the sea and seagulls raided inland looking for easier pickings than the hard to find fish in the Medway Estuary.
It was only about two and a half miles back to Sheerness, but it seemed more like five. Although it was March, we both removed our coats and allowed the shrill wind to cool our bodies. I was tired, even though I was a fit eighteen-year-old farm manager, who worked a fourteen-hour day, month in, month out. Babies tire you out even before they are born.

Unspoken on Amazon UK

And now, I wait

Unspoken.

After the excitement of publication day, today is the day the nerves really set in.

Unspoken, my new baby, has flown the nest and is now out there in the wild world learning to fend for itself. There can be no questioning the thoughts of others. Readers are the most important people in any writer’s life outside of family. What they think matters. If they don’t like the look of the work you have slaved over for months, they are fully entitled to say so, and  publicly.

So, I sit here, constantly updating the Unspoken Amazon page before clicking onto my KDP reports to see how sales are going. Late last night I had a message from my author friend, Pam Howes, informing me that the book was in the 300s in all three Saga charts. I was encouraged by this as I have never written in this genre before and I spent an unsettled night, fighting the desire to go pick up my phone to check the ratings. The book has a chance of doing well in a very crowded field although many of the best selling authors write for this category.  The cover, created by the uber-talented, Jane Dixon Smith, is a big selling point, I also believe I have a very good blurb and my fab long-time, editor, Maureen Vincent Northam says  the book is an intricately woven, and beautifully told story.

So, why the nerves when everything seems to be going so well?

Reviews.

It is every author’s nightmare. You log onto Amazon and find that there is a new review waiting to be read. You close your eyes, then click away from the page, make a strong coffee, grab your box of Kleenex before pulling on your big writer’s pants, taking a deep breath and clicking the back button to refresh your book page.

Before clicking on the review link, you pray to all known deities that it will be at least a 3 star rating but you are convinced that it will be a 1  with a headline of ‘dreadful,’ or merely, ‘don’t bother.’

Most authors would be delighted with a 4, but a 3 would do just to let prospective readers know that the book isn’t going to end up in the charity shop, unread, or deleted from the Kindle after the first chapter.

Because of the length of Unspoken, I might have to wait until the middle of next week before I face that prospect. Until then I’ll just keep replying to the wonderful Facebook messages I’ve been receiving and wallowing in the glow of being a published author once again.

 

Amazon U.K. link

 

 

Unspoken Released!

I am delighted to announce the release, in Kindle format, of my new Family Saga, Unspoken.
As many of my Facebook and Twitter friends know, this novel has been a long time coming. My last book was a noir, suspense novella, Out of Control, which was published back in August 2015.
Following the sudden, unexpected death of my wife, three days later, I pretty much decided to give up writing. She was my muse, my first reader, someone who would tell me straight, how the story was progressing and I was lost without her.
Fast forward to March 2020 and after several false starts, the circumstances of Lockdown and an unfortunate, very painful injury which meant a short stay in hospital, and a long recovery process ahead, I found myself stuck inside, with only the TV and my rescue cat, Mia for company.

So, I decided to see if I could pick up where I left off all those years ago.
There were several part-started projects I could work with and I did think seriously about finishing one of them, but in the end, I decided that the virtually unlimited writing time that lay ahead, actually warranted a brand new project, something different, something outside of my comfort zone, something that would provide a fresh challenge.
I telephoned my fab editor, Maureen Vincent Northam and had the first of many chats about the new project. Maureen was keen for me to start and with her constant encouragement, via email and telephone, she eased me through the doubts, the plot holes and the comma-ridden chapters that I sent her on an almost daily basis.

The result, some sixteen weeks later, is Unspoken, the first of a series of three novels that will detail the history of the Mollison family from 1938 to 2019.

Unspoken is a story of secrets, love and revenge. In this novel, we meet, Alice, a young girl forced into adulthood before she could properly enjoy her late teenage years.
Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she has a secret. One she has kept to herself for some eighty years. She is aware that she has very little time left and wants to unburden herself to her great granddaughter, Jessica, a young woman who could have been mistaken for Alice had they been born in the same era. Unfortunately, Jessica has the same, dreadful tastes in men as Alice. Her partner, Calvin, once a kind, funny boyfriend has turned into a controlling narcissist.

Alice sends Jessica to the attic of the old farmhouse to retrieve her handwritten memoirs and her own relationship with a brutal, controlling man is finally brought into the light.

Unspoken is now available on Kindle at the price of £2.99 but is free for members of Kindle Unlimited. The paperback version is ready, and will follow soon.

You can buy/Download the Kinde version by clicking the link below..

UNSPOKEN 

 

Unspoken Paperback Cover.

More fabulous work by the very talented, Jane Dixon Smith of J.D.Smith Design

The paperback is ready to go and will be published soon.

Unspoken. Cover Reveal

 

 

I am delighted to reveal the cover for my new Family Saga novel, Unspoken.

The fabulous cover was designed by the extremely talented, Jane Dixon Smith, of J. D. Smith Design. http://janedixonsmith.com/

Unspoken will be published in Kindle EBook format later today but it may take a day or so to appear on Amazon. Paperback to follow in short order.

Keep checking back to this website for further news of the release.

Unspoken is something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life.

Unspoken

A dramatic family saga, Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.

Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Her strange, graphic dreams of ghostly figures trying to pull her into a tunnel of blinding light are becoming more and more vivid and terrifying. Alice knows she only has a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of a dark secret, one she has lived with for eighty years.
Jessica, a journalist, is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of a young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.
Alice decides to share her terrible secret with Jessica and sends her to the attic to retrieve a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline into depression and alcoholism, she is forced, at 18 to take over control of the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.
When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the arms of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank discovers her in another man’s arms, he vows to get revenge.
Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women, born eighty years apart.

 

Unspoken. The Blurb.

Two blurbs for Unspoken. The shorter one for the back of the paperback, the slightly longer one for the Unspoken, Amazon book page.

Paperback Blurb.

Unspoken

A dramatic family saga. A tale of secrets, love and revenge.

Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Her strange, graphic dreams of ghostly figures trying to pull her into a tunnel of blinding light are becoming more and more vivid and terrifying. Alice knows she only has a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of the dark secret she has lived with for eighty years.

Jessica is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of a young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.

Alice shares her terrible secret with Jessica through a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline, she is forced, at 18, to take control of the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.
When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the company of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank finds Alice in the arms of another man, he vows to get his revenge.

Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women born eighty years apart.

 

Amazon Blurb

Unspoken

A dramatic family saga, Unspoken is a tale of secrets, love, betrayal and revenge.

Unspoken means something that cannot be uttered aloud. Unspoken is the dark secret a woman must keep, for life.

Alice is fast approaching her one hundredth birthday and she is dying. Her strange, graphic dreams of ghostly figures trying to pull her into a tunnel of blinding light are becoming more and more vivid and terrifying. Alice knows she only has a short time left and is desperate to unburden herself of a dark secret, one she has lived with for eighty years.

Jessica, a journalist, is her great granddaughter and a mirror image of a young Alice. They share dreadful luck in the types of men that come into their lives.

Alice decides to share her terrible secret with Jessica and sends her to the attic to retrieve a set of handwritten notebooks detailing her young life during the late 1930s. Following the death of her invalid mother and her father’s decline into depression and alcoholism, she is forced, at 18 to take over control of the farm. On her birthday, she meets Frank, a man with a drink problem and a violent temper.
When Frank’s abusive behaviour steps up a level. Alice seeks solace in the arms of her smooth, ‘gangster lawyer’ Godfrey, and when Frank discovers her in another man’s arms, he vows to get revenge.
Unspoken. A tale that spans two eras and binds two women, born eighty years apart.

The Village


A Thousand Years of Division.
The village of Kirkby Sutton is a conglomerate and an enigma. Formed by the merging of two villages that had outgrown their ability to remain separate as an entity, it nevertheless retains two extremely different and specific identities. One half, as its name suggests, is built around the church and is a, (mainly), well-to-do, haven of respectability, with its Georgian Manor, leafy, wide-verged streets, lined with large, detached houses, driveways, off road parking and a library. There is also a small 1960s estate, a mix of private, three bedroomed, privately-owned houses, with an enclave of housing association tenants bolted on for political expediency.
Down the hill, the other half of the village contains a higgledy-piggledy, hotchpotch of stone cottages, modern, town houses and rows of Victorian terraces, originally built for the employees at the local lace factory, brewery and estate workers, who made the short trip up the road, to toil on the farms of Lord Beresford on the other side of the village. Nowadays, the descendants of those workers still live in the red brick terraces, but are employed by industries in the nearby cities of Nottingham and Derby.

The rivalry of its residents compares to any found in much larger towns and cities. You would be hard pressed to find as much animosity at a local Derby football match in Liverpool or Manchester. The annual village fair, which includes a fiercely fought, tug-of-war competition, held on a boozy bank holiday weekend, regularly turns violent. For years, a police sergeant from the small town of Higton, was paid to referee the event, but when the ageing sergeant retired and the police station was closed down to save money in the 1950s, the residents were left to sort out their own mess, so a committee, made up of the vicar’s wife and a group of teetotal residents from both sides, sat in sober judgment over the proceedings. To this day, the committee still rules on complaints and accusations made by one side against the other. Most of the grievances are easily dismissed, but on a few occasions, a vote has to be taken with the chairperson, a lady with no connection to either side of the village, holding the casting vote.
Sutton is the older part of the village and dates back to Saxon times. Its name comes from the Anglo-Saxon term for South town, (village, or enclosure.) It was built on the plain at the bottom of a long slope, on the bend of a fast-flowing stream. They built a timber church, which, in bad winters, became a flood plain. Sick of paddling to church for their religious instruction, they erected another one, higher up the slope, using the soggy timbers from their original construction.
A hundred or so years later the Danes arrived, but instead of rape and pillage, the Vikings merely appropriated the land around the church and began to farm it. This community became known as Kirkby, or, the settlement by the church. Over time, the Danish intruders, became Christianised, improved the church building, and appointed one of their own number, a man from the nearby town of Derby, as priest. They reluctantly allowed their near neighbours to attend religious ceremonies, in an effort to re-Christianise the local population, who had, by now, become almost universally, heathen.

The church was rebuilt in stone during the thirteenth century, when the new Lord of the Manor, a distant relative of King Henry 111, was granted all of the lands around the area. Residents of Sutton sent emissaries to their new lord demanding a church of their own. The lord’s response was to add an extra tax on the ungrateful villagers, a tax that the residents of Kirkby were excused. The Sutton inhabitants were outraged and set about building a church of their own on the site of the original timber church, but on the eve of its consecration, it mysteriously burned down. A second attempt was made a year later but with the same result. Suttononians smelled a rat, and protested outside the stone church at Kirkby before Evensong. The parish priest dismissed their grievances and told them in no uncertain terms, that both instances of arson, were acts of an angry God, and if they didn’t start attending his sermons, they would be branded heretics and burned at the stake.
This threat worked to a degree, but there was always an undercurrent of hostility inside the parish.
Sutton attempted to build their own church on no less than twelve occasions over the following two hundred years with the same fiery result. When, at last, an Abbey was built on their half of the divide in the late 15th century, their joy was unbridled. That joy was soon to be bridled again, however, as in 1538 under instructions from Henry V111, the building was demolished and the land and possessions, seized by the crown.
Sutton decided that God really didn’t intend them to have a church and reluctantly fell in with their Kirkby hosts, which was a good job really, as a hundred or so years later, administrators decided that it was too much of the job administering two villages, so they combined them in a covenant and changed its name to Kirkby Sutton. The villagers only found out about it at the next census, and by then it was too late to do anything about it.
The villages expanded in the 18th century to accommodate the newly built mill on the Sutton side of the boundary, and the mill owner’s needs on the Kirkby side. New dwellings to house the relatives and administrators of the fledgling industry were built in Kirkby, whilst rows of stone cottages were erected in Sutton, meaning the dividing line between the two halves became ever closer.
When the mill closed in the mid-Victorian era, it was turned into a lace factory. Next door, the new owners also built a tannery. These budding entrepreneurs were soon followed by Barton’s Brewery, who took the crystal-clear waters of the stream to make their distinctively flavoured ales. Four streets of terraced housing were built on the southern edge of Sutton. The dwellings came complete with individual, outdoor lavatories and a series of communal water pumps. The larger houses of Kirkby, in general, became equipped with their own water supplies, albeit fed from a pump in the kitchens. This led to a near riot one summer, when, fuelled by a small outbreak of cholera in Sutton, the residents crossed the border, (a line of skinny, pine trees,) and begged their richer, and less smelly, neighbours for clean water. The gentry refused, so fuelled by the cheap, but strong, ale, supplied by the new Barton’s Brewery public house, the Suttononian men, invaded the North and smashed up the main pumping station that fed the privately-owned houses. The newly-formed, Borough Police Force were summoned, the riot was quelled and a raid was made on ‘suspect’ houses in Sutton. Several arrests were made, including that of a wheelchair bound lady of 75 years who hadn’t left her home in a decade.

During the first world war, an uneasy peace ensued with both sides of the village losing men in the fields of Flanders. When the war was over, it was decided that a small cenotaph would be built. The Kirkbyans wanted it to be outside the church. The Suttonians, outside the Tannery. A compromise was arrived at and the stone cenotaph was built on the dividing line between the two halves of the village. By now, this line was imaginary, as houses had been erected on both sides, and a tarmac road ran straight through the middle, connecting to a main road at the top end of Kirkby. An uninformed, outsider, would never have known the villages had ever been separate.
Typically, a row ensued over which side of the construction the names of dead would be carved into, so, sensibly, for once, the Sutton names were carved, facing the south and the Kirkby ones facing the north. Every year, on armistice day, the residents line up on either side of the tribute to remember their own. Villagers divided, even in death.
This story begins in the early 1950s.

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